38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Four years well spent, an amazing achievement.,
This review is from: And the Land Lay Still (Hardcover)
'And the Land Lay Still' is an epic masterpiece of a novel. Not always easy to read but well worth the time and effort. It is a novel about the social and political change in Scotland - but not JUST about Scotland - over a period of 50 years, a time when the 'Scottish Question' is debated time and time again. Somehow Robertson makes politics interesting and shows how it affects everyone. It is modern history and anyone alive today, (except the very young) will relate to the story as part of 'their' history. I found most of the references regarding politics, society and popular culture to be familiar.
It starts with Michael Pendreich in the process of choosing photographs for an exhibition of his father's work, not an easy task considering the 1000's that Angus Pendreich had taken during his lifetime. He is also planning a book to run alongside the exhibition and is struggling with the introduction. The novel ends with the opening of the exhibition and inbetween we hear the stories of the characters who appear in the photographs, some who directly influence change and others who are affected by it.
I said it is not always easy to read partly due to the stucture which is not linear, much appearing as flashbacks from the various characters. However I think that the structure is signposted near the beginning of the book when Michael visits Jean, an old friend of Angus's. When he suggests chronological order for the photographs she considers it as being interesting but perhaps not really the natural way to construct a narrative 'It's not how we remember our own lives, our own stories, after all. Bits of them come at us in any old order.' I hope that this novel will not be critisized for this structure, yes it can get a bit confusing, and I needed to go back sometimes but once I thought of this as an integral part of the novel, the only way the story could be told then it all clicked into place.
There are also a lot of characters to keep track of throughout the interralated sections of the book, far too many to pick anyone out in particular except for the homeless wanderer. He collects pebbles and sometimes gives them away to people he comes into contact with. He is the character who, directly or indirectly links the whole together, the novel starts with his narrative and it continues at the beginning of each section.
If you enjoyed 'The Testament of Gideon Mack' then I can't see how you could be disappointed with 'And the Land Lay Still', four years in the making and not one of them wasted.